OC School of the Arts & School District Are in Dispute
What Role Will OC Department of Education Play?

There is a dispute between Santa Ana Unified School District and Orange County School of the Arts over the renewal of its charter, and OCSA has approached the Orange County Department of Education to intervene by renewing its charter directly. OCDE may take action at its March 4 meeting. Read more in the LAist article and the OC Register article
OC Poetry Out Loud Winner: Alyssa Johnson

Arts Orange County & Orange County Department of Education are pleased to announce the winner of the Poetry Out Loud competition for Orange County: Alyssa Johnson of Mater Dei High School, seen above center with Trish Walsh, OCDE's Humanities Administrator and Marcus Omari, ArtsOC's Poetry Out Loud Coordinator, a poet & founder of Poetic Reform Party, a local literary organization. Alyssa will travel to Sacramento for the state competition next month. The statewide winner also travels to Washington DC for the national competition in April. Second place went to: Elizabeth Hatch of Orange County School of the Arts. Third place was won by: Osbaldo Orozco-Mata of Los Amigos High School in Fountain Valley.  
Shakespeare Orange County Has Closed

Shakespeare Orange County (SOC) has closed its doors permanently after 5 years under the leadership of John Walcutt, perhaps marking the final end to a storied but troubled history. Walcutt took over the company in 2014 after its founder Tom Bradac announced his retirement and its Board Chair simultaneously announced its closure in 2013. Bradac had founded the original Grove Shakespeare Festival, offering performances at Garden Grove's Festival Amphitheatre and Gem Theatre, in the late 1970s, while employed by the City of Garden Grove. He departed more than a decade later for a professorship at Chapman University. Under new leadership, Grove Shakespeare Festival lasted only a few more seasons, after which a pair of young theatre producers, Kevin Cochran and Charles Johanson, won the City contract to operate the facilities, which they rebranded as Grove Theatre Center. Their efforts succeeded for a number of years, but after they expanded its operation to Burbank, which blossomed, the City felt their attention to the Garden Grove location had waned, and did not renew their contract and put the use of the facilities out to bid again. Bradac, who had by then founded Shakespeare Orange County, offering summer Shakespeare performances at Chapman's Waltmar Theatre, won the contract back from the City and relocated Shakespeare Orange County there. Although Walcutt "rescued" the SOC brand and Shakespeare performances in Garden Grove from disappearance following Bradac's retirement, he had to rebuild the organization from the ground up, and the City never returned to its original 1970s-era level of involvement and financial support, without which it was always on shaky footing. Nevertheless, Walcutt's visionary artistic approach brought sizable new and younger audiences to the theatre, featuring Shakespeare productions teeming with diverse casts of Asian-American, Latino and student performers from OC School of the Arts (where Walcutt teaches) to reflect the changing demographics of the community. After being locked out by the City's abrupt decision to renovate the amphitheatre during the height of the summer 2019 season and the City's changing ideas of the programming it wanted in the space, Walcutt found a "white knight" in Santa Ana College (SAC), which offered SOC their facilities. After one season there, many expected SOC to continue operating at SAC, so the recent announcement by Walcutt on Facebook came as a shock to the community. There has been no further explanation from Walcutt for the decision to close the company, but his Facebook post indicated that he will personally become active in the New Swan Shakespeare Festival at UC Irvine.



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OCDE Appoints New Visual & Performing Arts Coordinator:

Scott Fitzpatrick has been appointed Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator for the Orange County Department of Education, succeeding VAPA Coordinator Steve Venz. Scott piloted Newport-Mesa's District Arts Commission with a focus on building leadership in others and community partnerships between teacher, parents, administrators and community arts partners. He holds a BA in Music Education from Vanguard University and an MS in Educational Leadership from California State University, Fullerton. Scott spent 26 years in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District first as an Elementary Music Teacher and a Teacher on Special Assignment for K-12 Visual and Performing Arts. Scott's time as a VAPA TOSA resulted in Newport-Mesa creating, piloting and sustaining District-Wide Music Festivals, Music and Dance Workshops and Visual Art Shows. After advocating for the addition of Secondary VAPA Staff Development Scott worked with VAPA teachers in each discipline to design discipline-specific staff development. "We are very pleased to learn about Scott's appointment to this critical countywide arts education leadership position," commented ArtsOC President & CEO Rick Stein. "We have worked closely with Scott on arts advocacy for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District for over ten years, and observed firsthand the outstanding work he did there. With Scott's appointment, we are confident that the future of our longstanding partnership with OCDE and Superintendent of Schools Al Mijares on the Imagination Celebration, the Creative Edge Lecture, and arts education advocacy will continue to be impactful for the community." Scott is a performing musician both in small solo/trios and also in the local surf band, The Fabulous Nomads. He and his wife Stacey live in Costa Mesa with their two dogs Sadie and Stan.
Staff Versus Contract Workers: What AB5 Means to The Social Sector

Did you miss ArtsOC's workshop in December about the new employment law? AB5 continues to draw attention as its impacts are only beginning to be discovered by many nonprofit organizations. G3X, led by Zoot Velasco, will offer its March lecture on this topic free of charge, co-sponsored with Orange County Community Foundation & the Public Law Center, on March 17 at 9-10:30 AM, at The Village at 17th Street, 1505 E. 17th Street, Suite 104, Santa Ana, CA 92705. Reservations are required here.
Arts, Culture & Creativity Month Will Feature Arts Summit + Arts Advocacy Day in Sacramento

Join hundreds of fellow arts-concerned citizens from around the state on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 14 & 15 for an arts summit convening and for a day for advocacy at the capital in Sacramento. Details here.
Arts Orange County is the leader in building appreciation of, participation in and support for the arts and arts education throughout Orange County. 
It is a powerhouse in advancing Orange County's arts ecology, a trailblazer in advocating workforce development through arts education, a leader in building future audiences and a trendsetter in the world of nonprofit arts councils.

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